Far-right deputy minister Avi Maoz introduced legislation on Thursday that would bar schools from teaching lessons on sexual orientation before 9th grade, and even then they would only be authorized under strict conditions.
Maoz heads the one-man anti-LGBTQ Noam faction and was granted authority over all external programming in schools upon the formation of the new hardline government.
His “Students Rights Law” would only allow high schools to teach about sexual and gender identity if the principal presents a detailed reasoning for why such lessons would be necessary. The parents in the respective class would have to be notified ahead of time, and at least 75 percent of them would have to approve of the lesson. Moreover, all students in the class would have to consent to the lesson.
Under current regulations, sexual orientation issues can be taught in 7th grade, and none of the aforementioned stipulations are required.
In the summary of his bill, Maoz wrote that its goal was to “prevent irreversible damage to students.”
Asked for comment on the legislation, Education Minister Yoav Kisch’s office declined to do so directly but did say that no legislation regarding the education system would be advanced by the governing coalition without his approval.
The Aguda Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel blasted the bill in a statement, saying that “every parent in Israel should be concerned when Avi Maoz seeks to take control of their child’s education. The goal [of this bill] is to frighten and mark the LGBTQ community as an enemy that must be avoided, employing the same tactics used by history’s greatest homophobes.
“Any harm to LGBTQ youth, even in the slightest, will be met with an unprecedented response,” the Agudah said, adding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kisch must demonstrate that they meant what they said when they pledged not to allow any harm to the LGBTQ community following Maoz’s appointment.
Hoshen, the LGBTQ education organization that leads many of the sexual identity lessons in schools, characterized as “evil” Maoz’s attempt to portray their work as part of the problem rather than a solution for youth safety.
The group called on Netanyahu and Kisch to take a public stance against the bill.